College freshmen are voicing dwindling support for casual sex and legal abortion, a survey says. But they have more liberal views on marijuana, with support for legalization reaching a 15-year high.
Support for keeping abortion legal rose steadily in the late 1980s, according to the University of California’s annual freshmen survey. But in the 1995 survey, it declined for the third straight year, to 58 percent.
In 1987, 52 percent of the freshmen responding to the survey supported casual sex. Now, 43 percent say it’s OK for two people to have sex even if they’ve only known each other a short time.
“There are more diseases and stuff. And I just don’t think people want to sleep with the first person they meet. They want to get to know them better,” said Dennise Ledesma, an 18-year-old freshman at Cal State-Los Angeles.
Among college freshmen, the belief that homosexual relationships should be prohibited has declined from a high of 53 percent in 1987 to an all-time low of 30.6 percent. And support for legalizing marijuana has risen to nearly 34 percent - double the 17 percent who held that view in 1989.
“It’s so abundant. It’s no big deal because everybody is using it,” said Jason Zavada, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Kentucky who supports legalization. “We don’t see all the bad it’s causing. It’s an insane policy to treat people like criminals for using something that comes from the earth.”
More than half the freshmen surveyed labeled their political views as “middle-of-the-road.” But the 30-year-old survey says growing bands of liberals and conservatives are scooting farther to the left and right.
The fall survey, sponsored by the American Council on Education, was given to 323,791 entering freshman at 641 colleges and universities. Of these, 240,082 questionnaires from 473 institutions were used. The institute then weighted the data in an effort to make it reflective of the views of the nation’s 1.5 million first-time college freshmen.
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